Cannabis has a number of benefits for those who use it, including offering relief from stress, pain, insomnia, low appetite, and compromised libido. There's also longstanding anecdotal evidence that it’s good for one of the most widespread and growing health issues: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A study released last week shows that those suffering from PTSD who use cannabis experience lower rates of depression and thoughts of suicide.
Via Marijuana Moment comes the news that those "suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who consume marijuana experience significantly fewer depressive episodes and lower rates of suicidal ideation compared to non-users."
Of the 24,000 people who qualified for a study by the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use and the University of British Columbia, “420 were clinically diagnosed with PTSD.” (Jah as my witness, that is the real number from the study.) Marijuana Moment continues: “Of those, 106 individuals with PTSD (28.2 percent) said they used cannabis in the past year. That’s markedly higher than the average of those who don’t have PTSD (11.2 percent).” Furthermore, “Those suffering from PTSD who didn’t report past-year cannabis use were about seven times as likely to have experienced a recent major depressive episode, the study found. They were also 4.3 times as likely to have contemplated suicide.”
Although anyone can develop PTSD, many are members of our military, and it’s no secret that while we're quick to place our servicemen and women directly in harm’s way, we're all but absent when it’s time to address the results of that harm. The Department of Veterans Affairs recently revealed that on an average day, 17 American veterans commit suicide.
All tools available to reduce numbers like that should be utilized—but the VA remains staunchly opposed to cannabis use by veterans, instead choosing to widely prescribe opiates and other pharmaceuticals. (Dr. David Shulkin, the former head of the VA, recently pulled a belated 180 on advocating for medical cannabis to be provided as an option to veterans. This would've been far more useful while you were running the fucking VA, Dave, but welcome to the party.)
Another group with a high rate of PTSD are residents of inner city communities, many of whom live in environments with higher than average rates of violence and poverty. (Surprising no one, these are the same communities that have been historically and disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.) A story by Essence and ProPublica highlights a study of 8,000 inner city residents, in which "roughly 30 percent of respondents had had symptoms consistent with PTSD—a rate as high or higher than that of veterans of wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan."
The Canadian study indicates that cannabis use could be useful for helping individuals deal with PTSD in a number of environments and situations. As the study's lead author, Stephanie Lake, told Newsweek: “We know that with limited treatment options for PTSD, many patients have taken to medicating with cannabis to alleviate their symptoms. However, this is the first time that results from a nationally representative survey have shown the potential benefits of treating the disorder with cannabis.”